eeeeeeApparently the Red Sox are allowed to win baseball games. After losing nine in a row they finally got back into the win column on Wednesday with a strong overall performance. Kyle Hart was far from perfect, but he limited the damage. The bullpen came in after him and put together a very impressive performance for the final 5 1⁄3 innings. On offense, Rafael Devers stayed hot to lead the way with a three-hit performance that included a two-run homer, and Alex Verdugo did the job at the top of the lineup. Put it all together and you get a 5-3 victory.
Kyle Hart had quite the task on his plate Wednesday afternoon. The lefty was making his second career start after a debut that did not go according to plan. Not only that, but he was also facing a Phillies lineup that is loaded with some of the bigger names in the game. Not only that, but he was also trying to help snap a nine-game losing streak for his team, which has been probably the most disappointing and arguably just the straight-up worst team in baseball this year. No pressure, kid.
The way things started out, it looked like it was going to be one of those games where things were over before they began. Andrew McCutchen led things off with a ball high off the Monster for a double. After that, Hart was trying to paint the edges of the zone but found himself missing, issuing two straight walks to load up the bases with nobody out. He did get a big first out on a fly ball to right field that was too shallow to score the run, but then the BABIP gods got the best of him. Phil Gosselin hit a weak stinger of a line drive that found a big hole on the right side of the infield to give the Phillies a one-run lead.
After that, it looked like Hart caught a huge break thanks to his defense, as he gave up a fly ball out to center field. Jackie Bradley Jr. made the catch then threw an absolute bullet to the plate for a near-perfect throw. It was a tiny bit towards the first base side of the plate, but it beat the runner by plenty of time. Or, at least it seemed like it did. Christian Vázquez showed a bizarre lack of urgency in placing down the tag and put it on the Rhys Hoskins’s shin after his foot got in. It should have ended the inning, but instead things kept going with a 2-0 lead for the road team. Fortunately, Hart did get out of it without giving up any more runs in the inning.
The lefty came back strong in the second, too, striking out a pair as part of a perfect frame. The third did see a return of some of those control issues as Hart walked two of the first three batters he faced, but he managed to get through another scoreless inning even with the free passes. He came back out for the fourth, too, having one runner reach base thanks to an error by Tzu-Wei Lin. Hart got two outs after that, though, before handing things over to Austin Brice to finish off the inning.
On the other side, the early parts of this game were very classic 2020 Red Sox offense, which is to say they got a few baserunners here and there but managed to find ways to not threaten to score. In the first, for example, they got a one-out walk from Kevin Pillar, but he misread a ball in the dirt and was thrown out as part of a three-batter inning. Then, in the second, they got their first two on but then a double play killed that momentum and they would fail to score there, too.
In the third, though, things began to change. Jake Arrieta got a couple of quick outs to start the inning, but Pillar kept things alive with a double off the Monster. That brought Rafael Devers to the plate, and he had been heating up a bit. He boiled over in this at bat, getting a two-seam fastball up in the zone and hitting an absolute laser beam out to straightaway center field for a two-run shot, tying the game up. They almost took the lead, too, as Xander Bogaerts hit a deep fly ball to right field but it was caught right in front of the short wall of the bullpen by Bryce Harper to end the inning.
The momentum kept up in the fourth, too, with Mitch Moreland leading things off with a walk. After a Vázquez single put runners on the corners, Jackie Bradley Jr. gave the Red Sox the lead with a base hit of his own. Then, after Brice came back out for a perfect fifth, Alex Verdugo extended his hit streak to ten games with a leadoff double. That was followed by a ground ball to first base by Pillar, but Hoskins’s toss to Arrieta was too high. Verdugo was on his horse the whole way and he’d come all the way around from second to make it a 4-2 game. A Devers single then put runners on the corners, but they couldn’t add to their lead.
As we headed into the sixth, Ryan Weber came on trying to protect the lead. The righty had been pitching well his last couple outings in mop up duty, and now he was being trusted in a much bigger role. As you may remember, the Red Sox entered Tuesday’s sixth inning with a 4-2 lead as well but left trailing 9-4. This game would be different, though, with Weber working around a two-out walk for a scoreless inning to hold the two-run lead.
He’d come back out for the seventh, too, after the offense went down in order in the bottom of the sixth. The inning started off with a tough at bat against Neil Walker, who worked a full count before driving a changeup out to right field for a leadoff double. Weber came back with a ground ball for the first out, moving Walker to third, before getting another ground ball to shortstop. With the infield back, it was a definite run, but it should have at least been a second out. Instead, Lin overthrew Moreland at first base by about 10 feet, bringing the Phillies to within one and putting the tying run on base.
That error also marked the end of the day for Weber, as Matt Barnes came in out of the bullpen with the runner at first and just one out in a one-run game. The righty was welcomed to the game by facing Bryce Harper, but he got him for a big strikeout for out number two in the inning. He then got another huge K against J.T. Realmuto to strand the runner and keep the 4-3 lead.
Heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Red Sox were looking for some insurance and the usual suspects from this afternoon got them just that. Things got started when Alex Verdugo drew a one-out walk, and then he would immediately steal second base to put himself into scoring position. A couple batters later, Devers slapped one off the Monster in left field for a double, his third hit of the game, to bring Verdugo home and give Boston the 5-3 lead.
Barnes would then come back out for the eighth, and he got a little help from the umpire to get a strikeout in the first at bat. That brought Didi Gregorius to the plate, and he put forth an incredible 14-pitch at bat to draw a walk and allow the tying run to come to the plate. That would be Alec Bohm, but Barnes induced a huge ground ball that turned into a very pretty 6-4-3 double play to end the inning with the two-run lead still in hand.
In the bottom of the inning the Red Sox were looking to add more insurance, and Moreland got things started with a ground rule double. He’d move up to third on a wild pitch, and after a walk Boston had runners on the corners with nobody out. Jackie Bradley Jr. then came through with a big double, extending the lead to three and putting two in scoring position, still with nobody out.
They couldn’t capitalize, though, leaving the lead at three for Brandon Workman in the ninth. The righty came through with a perfect inning to finish off the long-awaited victory.
The Red Sox will look to carry this momentum into a weekend set in Baltimore starting on Thursday. They’ll have Nathan Eovaldi on the mound for that one to take on Asher Wojciechowski. First pitch is set for 7:35 PM ET.